Highlights In Today's Reading:
Jesus warns against offending others and teaches forgiveness, faith and duty (17:1-10). From the 10 lepers we learn that gratitude is important. Don' fail to recognize the hand of God in daily living (17:11-19). Jesus implies we should be prepared for "His coming any day" because it will be "business as usual" in the days of the Son of Man (17: 26-30). The parable of the persistent widow (18:1-8) and the events of a blind man being healed (18:35-43) are quite different and yet similar. Jesus reveals self-confidence and arrogance as sin (18:9-14) and contrasts it with childlike faith (18:15-17). How sad that some exchange temporal riches for eternal life (18:18-30).
The Pharisee seemed to have everything in his favor as he went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all I possess (18:11-12). The Pharisee's prayer was hardly a prayer of thanksgiving to God, but rather an arrogant congratulatory praise of himself in contrast to others. Sadly he didn't know that he prayed thus with himself.
The Pharisee observed the publican (tax collector) and exposed him in his prayer as a dark background on which the bright colors of his own virtues were gloriously displayed. His pride and contempt for others revealed his true state of heart. He felt the need of nothing and his prayer became a long-flowing boast of self-righteousness beyond even the requirements of God's laws. With each act of self-congratulation, the Pharisee probably should have followed by confessing: "I have not been an extortioner, but I have often coveted what was not my own. I have not been unjust, but I have been far from generous. I have not been an adulterer, but my heart has harbored many sinful thoughts."
The Pharisees have long disappeared from history, but the legalistic spirit of the Pharisees still has many followers.
The publican's prayer was short but, oh, how sincere! He was as great a sinner as his prayer implied when he smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner (18:13). He felt his unworthiness to stand before the One True Holy God!
There was no measuring of himself with other people. There was no mention of his neighbor's sins. He was burdened by the consciousness of his own personal guilt and knew that he had no hope but in the mercy and grace of a loving God.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness' sake, O Lord (Psalm 25:7).
Thought for Today:
Whenever we think we are doing God a favor by serving Him, we need to remember the prayer of the publican.
17:8 sup =b> dinner meal; 17:9 trow =b> think; 18:1 faint =b> give up; 18:3 Avenge =b> Provide justice and protection.
For Luke 18:20: See Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20.
Pray for Radio Sri Lanka International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Mrs. Valerie F. Virgona • Staff: Bernice Rathbone • Government Official: Rep. Zach Wamp (TN) • Country: Lithuania (4 million) eastern coast of Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe • Major languages: Lithuanian and Russian • Limited religious freedom • 80% Roman Catholic; 5% Russian Orthodox; 1% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Ask for forgiveness for particular sins (Psa. 51:1-9).
Memory Verse for the Week: Luke 14:33